Given the choice between a track day or driving off-road, I think I’d choose to get my tyres dirty. There’s something deeply satisfying about plotting a course along a muddy track or over a rocky hillside. In the last update, I promised to test the Mitsubishi L200’s off-road capabilities, which we managed to do a day before the new lockdown measures were introduced in England.
Not that off-roading is totally off-limits. We could actually complete a fair proportion of a trip to a local supermarket using tracks, byways and crossing a few fords. It’s not quite a case of climbing every mountain and fording every stream, but it would be possible to arrive at Waitrose with the L200 caked in mud. Although all L200s allow you to switch from rear- to four-wheel drive on the move, you need the Barbarian and Barbarian X models for the new Off-Road Mode and Hill Descent Control (HDC). The gap between the most affordable L200 Double Cab and the Barbarian model is around £11,500.
Off-Road Mode is available in 4LLc low-ratio with a locked differential. Using the rotary dial between the front seats, you can select a setting depending on the terrain: Gravel, Mud/Snow, Sand and Rock. The system regulates wheel slip, engine torque, the automatic transmission, stability control and traction control to maintain progress. Well that’s the theory, anyway. In fairness, it certainly made light work of everything we threw at it. The ground was sodden after a week of rain, so the fords were in full flow and the rutted tracks were deep, slippery and uneven. Sounds like a Christmas carol! The first challenge was a downhill stretch of loose stones. I engaged Gravel mode and HDC at the top, then let the system control things at a maximum speed of 12mph. Easy. This was followed by a river and a rutted track caked in wet, slippery mud. Time to engage Mud/Snow mode. Again, no problem for the L200. I could feel the tyres searching for available grip, while the 205mm of ground clearance made light work of some seriously deep ruts. The 30-degrees approach angle and 22-degrees departure angle also came in handy when we faced a ford nestled between a couple of steep banks. This was the only time I felt the back end twitch a little, when the system came to terms with the shift from running water to a muddy bank and a sharp corner. No bother though – everything felt composed and controlled.
To be fair, our off-road course should be meat and drink to a car like the L200. If it couldn’t cope with a cross-country trip to Waitrose, it wouldn’t be so popular in the farming community. Farmers have never had it so good: heated seats, a heated steering wheel and Radio 4 on the digital radio, it’s off-roading in comfort. The fact that navigation isn’t available on any version of the L200 still irks me, but maybe I’m being picky.
Date arrived 10th March 2020
Economy (WLTP combined) 29.1mpg
Economy (On test) 28.4mpg
Auto-levelling LED headlights are great in the winter.
The passenger side rear window has started rattling.